THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Sep01

Urban Bees

Trees for Bees

Urban Bees is bringing bees to our cities. They are not just training people in beekeeping, or partnering up beekeepers with people who have the space to keep a hive (much like the ‘adopt a beehive’ scheme run by Richard from Essex Bees) but they are also promoting bee-friendly spaces.

Just study the Trees for Bees poster above (you can also view it on the Urban Bees website.) Bees don’t want to waste energy, so planting a tree gives the bees an efficient way to earn a vital food source. We love using lime trees in a garden for a client, but the real benefit for bees comes from trees in flower early and late on in the season so get planting a strawberry tree for the Autumn and hazel and goat willow for the Spring!

(We currently have a big patch of cosmos, an annual flower, which is proving incredibly popular with the bees here in Chelmsford. It looks its best in September and should continue to flower all the way through to the first frosts. We have grown it for years now and never cease to enjoy it, as simple a plant as it is…)

Honey will look and taste differently, depending on where it is harvested. In the countryside many farms specialise in only a few crops, so bees visiting these fields will have a narrow diet. Urban bees have the diversity of the city to enjoy, so can stumble across trees and flowers they may not find in any great quantity in the country. On the Urban Bee website they talk about the taste of their honey…

“The honey has a delicate, light flavour with a slight hint of citrus as the bees will have visited many of the local lime trees that flower in June and July.”

We have read of a honey from Morocco that was thick and as dark as obsidian. The writer was almost a honey hound, scouring the world to obtain a jar (or at least a taste!) of different types. Until last year, we had never realised honey would be different depending on what the bees had to forage amongst. Nor did we appreciate how different good honey is to the stuff you get in a squeezy bottle… don’t buy that anymore, please. Look for something of quality…

Urban Bees is run by Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin – who wrote these Urban Bee Books. They are supported by organisations like River of Flowers and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, both of whom are doing important work bringing green space to London.

Do support their work and give a helping hand to our Urban Bees.

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

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Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

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Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

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